FACE OFF: Member for Page Kevin Hogan and Lismore Mayor Isaac Smith.
FACE OFF: Member for Page Kevin Hogan and Lismore Mayor Isaac Smith. Digital Montage

Former Page MP says mayor has credentials for the job

FORMER Member for Page Janelle Saffin is confident the latest ALP hopeful for her old seat of Page has a template for success.

Lismore Mayor Isaac Smith has confirmed he will stand for the party's federal pre-selection in the seat of Page.

But while he has a high profile in the northern part of the electorate, he is less well known in the Clarence Valley.

But Ms Saffin said this was no hindrance to gaining the votes needed to win a seat.

"When I ran I ran on a platform of whatever I did for people in Lismore, in Casino, in Grafton or in Yamba I would do the same for you," she said.

"Whatever the needs you had in your area I would do whatever I could to make sure it happened.

"And as a Labor candidate, I made sure it was done with fairness."

Ms Saffin said she has watched Mr Smith's performance in local government with interest.

"He was wonderful with the leadership he showed during and after the catastrophic floods we had here last year," she said.

"He's got family all across the region, including in the Clarence and he keeps across all the issues," she said.

Ms Saffin has decided to have a tilt at the State Government seat of Lismore, nominating for pre-selection.

"The result of the pre-selection will be announced on Sunday," she said.

There has been some controversy around this pre-selection battle with Mr Smith denying accusations he was asked to step aside from a tilt at the State seat for Ms Saffin.

Cr Smith said he believed local government gave the ideal grass-roots grounding and experience to be effective at the national strata of government.

Cr Smith said after more than a decade in local government, the reasons why he first became involved are still as strong as ever.

"You don't get involved in local council unless you want to help people," he said.

"What got me involved in politics 12 years ago were the big issues such as employment and now I have come full circle, my great passion is to make sure my family and everyone's families have a prosperous future in this country."

It's an ambitious goal as the ALP last held the seat between 2007 and 2013 when Nationals member Kevin Hogan ousted Labor's Janelle Saffin.

In a political twist, Ms Saffin is now standing for Labor state parliament pre-selection and Cr Smith was accused of bowing to party pressure to stand down from this competition, an allegation he denies.

Cr Smith said his tilt at federal politics had a time limit as he wanted to get in, be effective and then get out.

"Politicians often lose sight of what people need," he said,

"I'm planning to get in for a short time to get things done, I won't be there 20 years."

While he acknowledged being involved in local government was an incredibly good method to make positive changes for the community, Cr Smith said now he felt it was time to have a go.

"I think it's the practicality over what I have been doing over the past 11 years makes me well qualified to step up," he said.

"I think we worry when people step straight in federal government from unions or business without any local government experience, because this is where you come across every issue in the local community."

The seat which has been held by Nationals' member Kevin Hogan since 2013, covers 19,342sqkm from Sapphire Beach in the south to Nimbin in the north on the coastal side, and from Nymboida in the south to the Queensland border on the inland side.

Page now covers the entire Clarence Valley within the electorate.


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